How does cognitive screening enhance audiologic patient care?
Cognitive screening is an important addition to audiological care for a few reasons. First, it’s an important tool for clinical decision-making as it provides additional insight into how the patient processes in areas that are important for speech understanding in complex, real-world environments. We must move away from considering hearing, listening and communication as just the peripheral processing of sound – we have to approach audiological care more holistically, ear to brain. So how do we make that happen? We begin to think about cognitive screening as a standard part of the patient evaluation and implement it accordingly.
Implementing a cognitive screening tool in my practice was challenging until Cognivue® Thrive™ became available. Fully computerized and self-administered by the patient, Cognivue Thrive is easy to implement into my practice and I value the information that allows me to better understand how my patients are functioning within different domains of cognitive processing, which facilitates more patient-centered care. In fact, I use that information to help guide my approach to hearing aid processing, assistive devices and other rehabilitative strategies. Implementing a cognitive screening tool also gives me the opportunity to help my patients understand how they hear, listen and communicate from ear to brain and relate it to what they are experiencing in their day-to-day lives. This helps with expectation management for the patient and family.
A second reason cognitive screening is important in the audiology practice is that the audiologist is uniquely positioned to play a key role in cognitive health as part of the broader healthcare ecosystem. We know from the Lancet Commission report that hearing loss is the number one modifiable risk factor for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Since hearing loss can present symptoms similar to those of dementia, we can help with differential diagnosis. What we do as audiologists is important for helping patients remain engaged and social, key factors for cognitive health and slowing cognitive decline.
With an aging population and subsequent expected rise in dementia incidence, we as audiologists should proactively interject ourselves into the conversation regarding cognitive health. And as we work to standardize cognitive assessment as an important component of clinical decision-making, audiologists are in a unique position to be early identifiers of possible mild cognitive decline, make appropriate referrals, and contribute to overall patient wellness beyond the auditory system.
For more information on Cognivue Thrive, please visit the Audiology Online Partner Page.